Athletics PNG has selected a final team of 24 male and 11 female athletes for the Pacific Games in Honiara including some new athletes who performed well at the recent PNG Air National Championships in Port Moresby.
Since Sprint Queen Toea Wisil has taken this year off for personal reasons.
This year PNG’s hope for the women’s sprints rests on the shoulders of Leonie Beu, while PNG also expects gold medals from other track and field event athletes: Adrine Monagi (hurdles and relays), Rellie Kaputin (jumps), Sharon Toako (throws), Scholastica Herman and Mary Tenge (middle distance).
As for the mens, PNG has a strong track team this year with new competitors who will be joining Leroy Kamau, Daniel Baul, Benjamin Aliel and Emmanuel Wanga.
Adolf kauba will focus on challenging Alex Beddoes of Cook Islands, in the 800m and will be joined by Lot Samare and Robert Stringer.
PNG will have a strong team in the mens distance events with reigning Pacific Games champion in the 3000m steeplechase Simbai Kaspar being joined by Mini Games medallists Siune Kagl, Aquila Turalom , Dilu Goiye and Israel Takap.
Meanwhile the mens 100 and 200m will be wide open this year following the retirement of Fiji’s Banuve Tabacaucoro.
Lot Samare joined Pais Wisil and Adolf Kauba on the squad, which included five participants in the NSI development program.
Both Sialis Passinghan (400-meter hurdles) and Kenny Peter (javelin), who placed second on the PNG All-Time Best List behind Lakona Gerega (National record holder), hurled personal bests in the Nationals.
Karo Iga, a multi-event athlete, and Eldan Toti will represent PNG in the men’s jumps.
Australia, New Zealand, Samoa—which has recently developed many excellent sprinters and defeated PNG in the 4*100m relay both in Saipan 2022 and at the most recent Pacific Games in Apia—and Solomon Islands—which has a strong history in the long-distance competitions—are PNG’s main rivals.
President Tony Green said that the team was smaller than the expected 40+ mainly due to the difficulty finding and retaining female athletes all round, but especially for longer distance events.
“This is a Pacific wide problem, but we have to maintain standards,”
“The athletes on our quality squad have been chosen based on their capacity to contribute to the medal count, which is of course the main selection criterion.”
On the team’s chances of winning medals, Green responded that they are in good shape and have done a good job of preparing, but a final camp with good coaching assistance and some lead-up competition is necessary to get the athletes ready to perform at their best.
Athletics PNG anticipates maintaining its top-ranked status as a Pacific Island nation during the competition.